Matt Crabb: why I called time on my playing career

Matt Crabb during his Borough playing days
Matt Crabb during his Borough playing days

It was a regular sight over the last decade at Priory Lane and latterly the Saffrons and the Dripping Pan.

Matt Crabb scampering down the left wing, skipping beyond defenders and often picking out that killer pass or finding the back of the net.

Crabb, 32, played more than 500 games for Eastbourne Borough and was a vital player for Garry Wilson and Nick Greenwood during their rise up from the County Leagues.

For three seasons, he competed with his home town club in the Conference Premier - the highest tier of non-league football.

He left Priory Lane in 2011, shortly after new manager Tommy Widdrington arrived as the newly-introduced day-time training schedule clashed with his work.

He joined Danny Bloor at Eastbourne Town for a season in the Ryman League South before teaming up with his old boss Wilson at the Dripping Pan in the Ryman Premier.

Crabb admitted this season his enjoyment from the game had diminished.

He works as a heating and ventilation engineer and regular trips to London during the week alongside training, matches and a busy family life all contributed to his decision to hang up his boots after a successful 15-year senior football career.

Crabb said, “I am still fit enough to play but it purely came down to the fact that I wanted a break to spend more time with the family.

“I have two young girls - one is four and the eldest is seven. They have no interest in football and I wanted to spend more time with them.

“Also for the last few years I have not been enjoying it as much. With Borough we were always going for something, always fighting for something and I felt that’s been missing lately. My motivation wasn’t quite there and I always said if I’m not enjoying it then I would pack it in.”

Crabb, nicknamed Statto due to his extensive football knowledge, does not plan to leave the game altogether. After a year out he aims to come back as a coach or manager and points to Eastbourne United boss Simon Rowland as a great example.

“I do want to be involved in the game in future and I will look to coaching and management opportunities. Simon has done a fantastic job at United and it just shows what can be done.

“I would love to come back to Borough one day on the coaching staff but it’s tough to go in at that level. I might have to look at County League or Ryman and gain that experience first.”

His former boss Garry Wilson said, “Matt has been a fantastic player over the years. I was not surprised by the announcement. I have been speaking with Matt since Christmas and I thought this season would be his last.

“He was a key player for me at Eastbourne Borough and he was able to progress up the divisions with the club.

“He had pace and skill and was exciting to watch. If you asked the fans who their favourite player was, they would invariably say Matt Crabb.”